A CONTROVERSIAL puffin crossing is planned for West Moors – despite being branded a “waste of money” by some residents.

The crossing, which has been approved for the B3072 Station Road, could result in the loss of St Mary’s First School’s lollipop man, Peter Walker, who may no longer be needed.

Dorset County Council’s roads and rights of way committee approved the crossing in its planned location outside of the school with a majority vote on Thursday.

The public will soon be invited to comment on the plans.

John Bartley, who is a parish councillor and secretary of West Moors Memorial Hall, said: “I am just speaking as a villager who has inadvertently got caught up in the saga.

“The proposal does not have the support of many of the parents, who are more than happy with the existing arrangements whereby children and parents are seen across the road to St Mary’s First School by Peter, the friendly crossing patrol man. “According to a note I received from County Councillor Peter Finney, the crossing will cost around £70,000 to install and thereafter some £1,500 per year to maintain and run.

“The crossing patrolman earns around £3,000 per year, so with projected savings of around £1,500 per year it will probably take around 50 years to see any pay back. When you consider that there is already a crossing some 200 yards further down the road for those who want to cross for reasons unconnected with the school, the whole idea looks a bit daft and a waste of cash.”

Parish councillors wrote to the county council to say that they did not support the crossing in the proposed location after a meeting held on July 26 last year.

But Cllr Finney sought to reassure residents and said the parish council was the first to suggest the puffin crossing.

“The situation is that the parish council have been asking for a crossing for some years, but when the plans were finally put forward, the concern was that they could lose the crossing patrol,” he said.

He said the £70,000 needed to install the crossing would not come from the public coffers, but was instead from the Section106 Agreement money collected from a Verwood development some years ago.

The plan was originally to build a West Moors bypass and provide transport improvements on the B3072 to reduce traffic levels, but this cannot be done due to lack of funds and environmental constraints.

Cllr Finney said: “This is not costing the county council anything at all, except the funds to maintain it.

“As it has been raised by the parish council, the county council is obligated to look into it.”